West Xtra: New Brighton suffers more than one loss

Craig Meyer's High School Football Notebook

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For the first three weeks of the WPIAL football season, no team was putting up bigger offensive numbers than New Brighton.

The Lions, who finished just 3-6 in 2012, were off to their first 3-0 start since 2004, but even more eye-catching than their wins were the way they were recording them -- averaging 52.7 points per game and boasting one of the most explosive offenses in the WPIAL.

But, as many offenses do when matched up against Aliquippa, New Brighton's high-scoring attack came to a crushing halt in a 43-0 loss to the top-ranked Quips last Friday.

The setback marked the second consecutive year in which the Lions were shut out by Aliquippa.

On the surface, the loss should not be that much of a concern for New Brighton. The Quips have a habit of making even the most accomplished offenses look pedestrian ... it not downright terrible. Against WPIAL competition, Aliquippa has only allowed one team to score 20 or more points in the past four seasons, a run of games that has included formidable non-conference opponents such as South Fayette, Washington and Jeannette.

On the other hand, the loss presented reason for concern, almost solely because of what happened to the fulcrum of the team's offense -- quarterback Gabe Greco. Late in the first quarter, with the Lions trailing, Greco injured his left leg and did not return to the game.

The loss of any team's quarterback will fundamentally alter an offense, particularly when that lost starter is an effective one -- which Greco was, throwing for 705 yards through the team's first three games of the season.

An update on Greco's status was not available.

Things get substantially easier for New Brighton this week with a home game against 0-4 Freedom Area, but an important Class AA Midwestern Conference game against Beaver Falls awaits next week.

The longest streak goes to...

On what was an otherwise uneventful slate of games last Friday, the biggest headline by far came with Monessen's 42-24 victory against Clairton, snapping the Bears' WPIAL-record 66-game winning streak, the longest active one in the nation.

So, with Clairton's streak over, which WPIAL team has the longest win streak?

Surprisingly enough, that team is Avella. The Eagles, who went 5-77 from 2003-2011, have won five consecutive games dating back to last season.

How exactly is that the case? The two teams to win a state championship last season with undefeated records -- North Allegheny and Clairton -- have both lost this season and of the teams that have gotten off to 4-0 starts this season, only Avella won its final game of the 2012 season (the Eagles, despite a 6-3 record, missed the playoffs).

As for the longest win streak solely against WPIAL teams? That would belong to Aliquippa, which has defeated 30 consecutive WPIAL opponents dating back to 2010.

Runners going wild

Last Friday was one of the most successful in recent memory for running backs from the West Xtra coverage area, as four of the eight players to rush for 200 or more yards were from schools in this area.

Leading that group was Moon Area's Cole Blake, who rushed for a career-high 258 yards in a 42-7 victory against Ambridge. Damian Rawl of Beaver Falls rushed for 257 yards, also a career high, in a big victory against Beaver.

The other players to reach the 200-yard plateau were Isiah Canton of Carlynton (237 yards) and Jared Meyers of Ellwood City (200 yards).

Games of interest

Central Valley at West Allegheny, 7 p.m., Friday -- Without question, the regular-season game of the year in the Parkway Conference and maybe in all of Class AAA. Both teams are undefeated, with the winner getting an inside track at a conference title. The Indians are averaging 45 points per game while the Warriors are allowing just 1.5 points per game.

Western Beaver at Rochester, 7:30 p.m., Friday -- A program such as Rochester can generally be written into the WPIAL playoffs with a permanent marker. But after a 2-2 start, the Rams will likely need a win against the 2-2 Golden Beavers to be considered a serious contender for the fourth playoff spot in the Class A Big Seven Conference.


Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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